Page last updated at 17:19 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

300k mobile cancer unit unveiled

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Cancer patients usually have to travel to treatment centres and hospitals

A mobile cancer unit which can provide treatment and support to patients away from hospital is being shown off.

The 300,000 unit will be staffed by Welsh cancer charity Tenovus and four chemotherapy nurses from Velindre Hospital in Cardiff.

It is thought to be one of the first units offering cancer treatment to patients in this way.

The mobile unit is due to be unveiled on Monday evening and will visit Bridgend and Merthyr next week.

Tenovus chief executive Claudia McVie said: "Forty-six people a day in Wales are told they have cancer, and this figure will double by 2020.

"The combination of more people being diagnosed with cancer and increasing survival rates mean that a growing number of people are in need of our help.

Why the cancer unit is so important

"We have designed the mobile unit which, with our specialist cancer support team and nurses from Velindre Hospital, will deliver the best possible treatment and care for patients, as well as provide a complete package of support services for those affected by cancer."

The mobile unit, which costs 300,000 a year to run, will operate initially at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Bridgend on Mondays and Asda in Merthyr Tydfil on Wednesdays.

There are also plans to provide chemotherapy services in Cwmbran and Aberdare/Mountain Ash.

A cancer unit (library picture)
Cancer patients usually have to travel to treatment centres and hospitals

"Reports show that each cancer patient will visit hospital an average of 53 times," said Ms McVie.

"The physical, emotional and financial costs of travelling to treatment centres and hospitals are great for many cancer patients, and the mobile unit aims to ease these pressures for patients and their families by taking the services directly to them.

"Our research has shown that cancer incidence is 22% higher in Wales than in England, and there is a higher risk of cancer in areas of social deprivation, where outcomes are often worse."

Around 300 patients are expected to be treated at the unit each month.

Cancer in Wales
Around 16,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Wales
The incidence of cancer in Wales is one of the highest in the world
There has been a large increase in the number of cancers diagnosed in Wales
The five-year survival rate improved by about 7% for men and 3% for women between 1992-1996 and 1997-2001
Cancer is more common in deprived areas, particularly lung cancer
Merthyr Tydfil has the highest incidence of cancer in Wales
Figures: Supplied by Tenovus

Tenovus will also run a wide range of cancer education and awareness programmes with the unit across Wales, and set up a network of support centres which will provide services such as family counselling and research projects.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan, who was due to unveil the mobile unit on Thursday, said it was a "wonderful facility in partnership with the NHS in Wales".

"Fighting cancer is enough of a challenge without having to cope with the physical, emotional and financial stress of long journeys to specialist units so I am delighted that Wales is leading the way in the UK with this mobile unit in making treatment and support available to patients closer to home," he said.

Hywel Jones, 50, of Llantwit Fardre near Pontypridd, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2007 and received radiotherapy treatment at Velindre Hospital.

He said: "My radiotherapy treatment was very intense and often debilitating, especially towards the end, and it was hard do anything with my spare time.

"Having treatment closer to home would have made my life much easier."

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